One NE 60th Ave. • Des Moines, IA 50313 • Phone: 515-289-2230

Cemetery Staff

Robert Canady, General Manager

Plans for a career in the death-care industry became a reality when, in 1999, Bob became General Manager of Highland Memory Gardens Cemetery.

Born and raised in Des Moines, Bob was inspired by a neighbor, a local funeral director, to consider a career in funeral service and death care. He was later offered an internship at a funeral home where Bob worked for several years assisting families. Anticipating a career as a funeral director, the illness of his father caused him to alter his plans in order to operate the family business for a time.

Subsequently, his career path changed directions and in the next 25 years Bob worked in a variety of fields of business ranging from investments as a registered representative, to such fields as restaurant and hotel management, secondary school administration and church administration. Bob received his bachelor's degree from Drake University in Finance in 1977.

Jan Shawver, Family Services Representative

Jan's overwhelming passion is to serve our families at Highland Memory Gardens. She became our Family Services Representative on June 1, 2015, after having served as our Administrative Assistant and Office Teamwork Coordinator since 2008.

Jan spent the majority of her life living on the east side of Des Moines with her family. A graduate of East High School, she also attended Faith Baptist Bible College. In 2010 she moved to Ankeny where she continues her 35+ year history of teaching private instrumental music lessons.

When Jan is away from HMG she uses her musical abilities by participating in the musical ensemble at Community Baptist Church in Ankeny, She has served as an instrumentalist in churches for over 40 years. Joining with her sister, she also provides special music and "sing-alongs" for area retirement and nursing homes. In addition to music, Jan spends time with her family, loves to read and expresses her artistic talents and computer knowledge by doing digital scrapbooking.

Louise Helfinstine, Administrative Assistant/Productions Coordinator

During her more than 30 years with HMG, Louise has done every office job except accounting. While computers and specialized software have replaced many of the labor intensive tasks she had performed early in her career with HMG, her love for precision and detail has been invaluable to the entire staff of HMG. As Administrative Assistant and Productions Coordinator she serves HMG continuously by monitoring cemetery files to ensure accuracy and tracking all the merchandise for our lot owners.

Louise spent most of her early life in Minnesota where much of her family still resides. She spent 18 months in Germany with her family during her middle school years and her continuing love of travel has taken her to several countries in Europe, Africa the Middle East. She attended Faith Baptist Bible College and earned her B.S. degree while employed at the college.

Outside of the office she has kept a daily journal since childhood. She attends Emmanuel Baptist Church and is involved in many activities. She enjoys long walks with her dog, reading, and staying connected with friends by email or in person.

Avonda Row, Bookkeeper

Avonda joined Highland Memory Gardens in June, 2015 as the bookkeeper. She brings with her a welcoming personality, sense of humor and a smile for everyone she meets. A detail oriented person, she is eagerly learning the intricacies of the office.

Avonda was born in Texas, where much of her family still resides. A "Navy brat", she spent her early years moving between Texas and California. Settling in Ankeny, Iowa, in 1993, she raised four Ankeny Hawks, two currently living in Colorado and two serving in the National Guard. She also loves to spoil her two grandchildren.

Avonda is a member of the Ankeny First United Methodist Church, where she uses her creativity on the church's puppet team, Visual Scriptures, performing within the church, as well as around the state of Iowa and surrounding states. She finds fulfillment sharing God's Word in a way that surprises the audience and brings smiles to faces and warmth to hearts of all ages.

Luke Berry, Grounds Superintendent

Luke joined the HMG staff in the fall of 2015 and appointed Grounds Superintendent on July 1, 2016. He has proven to be a gifted leader who continues the cemetery's tradition of compassionate, friendly service to all who enter our Gardens.

Having returned to Iowa after living in Indiana, Luke loves working outdoors and being surrounded by nature in our beautiful gardens.

When away from HMG, Luke enjoys spending time with his wife and three sons. Together they enjoy searching for antiques and other vintage items, watching black-and-white movies and reading old books. Luke also enjoys photography and learning about cars.

Jerry Sheeks, Groundskeeper

Jerry Sheeks began his long career with us when he was just 13 years old and came to work with his father. As our Grounds Superintendent, Jerry has been with Highland Memory Gardens over 55 years. Though Jerry handed the reigns of Grounds Superintendent to his successor, Luke Berry, on July 1, 2016, happily he has chosen to stay on as a part-time seasonal grounds employee, primarily mowing, snow-plowing and an occasional special project. We are thankful for Jerry's faithfulness to HMG and are happy that retirement doesn't necessarily mean saying goodbye.

Jerry shares his philosophy of taking pride in his work, treating everyone, living and deceased, with respect and dignity and always being ready to lend a helping hand with all the employees and volunteers at the cemetery.

Family is very important to Jerry and making Highland Memory Gardens the beautiful place that it is has been a Sheeks family tradition for many years, since many of his family have also dedicated a portion of their lives to these Gardens.

When not at HMG you can find Jerry attending his grandkids' sporting events, completing home improvement projects or enjoying NASCAR events.

Adam J. Davenport, Groundskeeper

In November of 2011, HMG welcomed Adam to our full-time staff. Adam started as a seasonal employee in 2007 and continued working with us while pursuing his degree in Computer Science at DMACC and then Grandview University. His degree emphasis was Software Development and Computer Information Systems with a minor in Spanish.

While family members and friends wanted Adam to pursue his programming talents, he finds the work here very rewarding and maintains that he is much happier working outside with his hands than in a cubicle.

Adam takes part in a variety of activities during his spare time such as sampling new flavors of loose leaf tea, staying up-to-date on all the latest tech news and gadgets, and computer programming. As a former Eagle Scout, he also enjoys camping and observing wildlife in their natural habitat.

Jonathan Berry, Landscape Specialist

Highland Memory Gardens welcomed Jonathan to our full-time staff in May of 2016.

Jonathan applies his sense of eagerness and hard work in landscaping, planting, and tree trimming as he works alongside our volunteer Master Gardener, Ivan Wikner. He is working diligently to keep each of the gardens looking fresh and clean. In addition to his landscaping duties, Jonathan assists our grounds crew as needed.

Jonathan also enjoys early-morning stocking at the Fareway store in Indianola on a part time basis, and does mowing as an additional side job.

When not working, Jonathan enjoys kayaking, camping and airsoft. He is also involved in various ministries in his church.